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Report: Crime in Schenectady dropped 31 percent in past decade

Report: Crime in Schenectady dropped 31 percent in past decade

City's violent crime rate rises nearly 5 percent
Report: Crime in Schenectady dropped 31 percent in past decade
A state report says crime has dropped 31% in Schenectady over 10 years.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

SCHENECTADY — Overall crime is declining in the city, although violent crime has edged up. 

A decade-long study reveals crime dropped by 30.6 percent in the city between 2009 and 2018.

The state Division of Criminal Justice Services compiled the report using information self-reported by the Schenectady Police Department. 

BY THE NUMBERS

The city logged just one murder in 2018, down from a high of 10 in 2015. 

The biggest areas of reduction were robbery, which saw a 43.6 percent decrease, and property crimes, which plummeted 36.9 percent. 

Burglary declined by 57.1 percent, and larceny fell by 32.9 percent.

Most of the numbers were positive. 

However, violent crime increased by a net 4.9 percent over the 10-year period, making the city of Schenectady one of just three participating jurisdictions out of 20 that saw an increase (the others were Binghamton and Jamestown).

Aggravated assault shot up from 311 in 2009 to 426 incidents last year — a 37 percent increase.

Despite the increase, the percent of crimes committed with firearms overall saw a reduction: 14.7 percent of all crimes logged were connected to a firearm in 2018, down from a decade-long high of 21.1 percent in 2009.

Rape saw an increase over the 10-year time period, nearly doubling to 57 from 31 cases in 2009.

The state indicated the increase wasn’t necessarily due to a net gain of incidents, but rather a change in how federal authorities defined the crime. 

Shootings resulting in an injury barely budged over the decade — from 15 in 2009 to 14 in 2018 — as well as the number of shooting victims, which went from 16 to 17.

Car theft saw a 2 percent decrease.

Elsewhere in the region, Albany saw a net decrease of 24.5 percent in total crime, and 18 percent reduction in violent crime over the 10-year period.

Troy had a 37 percent overall decrease, and a 19.2 percent drop in violent crime.

Mayor Gary McCarthy and Schenectady Police Chief Eric Clifford were not immediately available for comment on Thursday.

STATEWIDE CRIME DOWN

The report was created through the state's Gun Involved Elimination Initiative (GIVE), which compiles statistics from 20 jurisdictions across 17 counties. 

Jurisdictions collectively reported the lowest-ever index crime total, with murder declining 22 percent; robbery, 47 percent, and burglary, down 60 percent since 2011.

The report, which contained data as of Feb. 25, also revealed record-low numbers for violent crimes and violent crimes by firearm for the 17 counties as a whole.

Stats were self-reported to state Division of Criminal Justice Services through participating police agencies, and are later submitted to the FBI.

GIVE awards participating jurisdictions grant funding designed to drive down violent crime. 

Funds can be used by police departments to bolster officers and technology.

That can include deploying more officers at locations with an overlap between high levels of car accidents and gun crime, both of which are susceptible to reduction with an increased police presence, said Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney.

The District Attorney's Office has used the funds to strengthen its resources, including two prosecutors focused on gun crimes and an investigator who specializes in intelligence-gathering. 

The office also works closely with GIVE investigators who provide training and technical assistance for a “focused deterrence” strategy of policing.

For prosecutors, that includes bringing people in who are at risk of committing gun violence — such as known gang members or those who have committed a past crime — and giving them a presentation with the hopes of turning them around. 

“If they engage in gun violence, it's an unforgivable crime for the community and will result in punishment," Carney said. “We want them to succeed in life. It's sort of a moral engagement program."

GIVE also allows prosecutors to use gun violence as an opening to go after all members of a gang — not just those involved in that particular incident. 

Carney cited enforcement actions against the Ku-Gang in Schenectady following a gun-related homicide that ultimately resulted in the incarceration of three leaders on gun charges.

He counted the program as a success.

"When you see a ten-year trend, it makes you think you’re on the right track," he said.

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